If the vast, low-lying Portes du Soleil ski area has a soul, it’s Morzine. With an attractive old village at its core, lively nightlife and plenty of skiing, it’s a good value, easy to reach, year-round resort. But snow reliability can be a problem.
From the building of the “Grand Hotel” by Francois Baud in the 1920’s, Morzine changed from a small Savoyarde village subsisting on farming and slate mining into a large international mountain resort. Its quick transfer from Geneva Airport makes it perfect for short breaks, but in good snow conditions there’s easily enough skiing for a full week or more.
The town itself is large and sprawling with several satellite villages, but has an attractive centre. There is a good variety of places to stay, with chalets, apartments and hotels (including good budget options), and plenty of restaurants and bars.
Morzine’s own ski area is shared with Les Gets and covered by the Portes du Soleil lift pass. It’s accessed from the Pleney and Crusaz lifts along the South West side of town, or from the Telecabine at Nyon, on its far southern edge. The runs are mostly short blues and reds but there are some off-piste challenges for expert skiers, most notably around the Pointe de Nyon and Chamossiere lifts (where there is an official freeride zone) and the far side of Mont Chery.
On its other side, Morzine connects into the main Portes Du Soleil circuit linking Avoriaz, Champery and Chatel. Access is either from the centre of town via the Super Morzine lift, or from the outlying (but bus-connected) hamlets at Ardent and Les Prodains, which have their own lifts.
And that is all the skiing most visitors could possibly want. But for determined explorers there are further small isolated outposts of the Portes Du Soleil at La Grande Terche above St Jean d’Aulps, and at Abondance which are both within range, particularly if you’re staying in Morzine’s satellite villages at Montriond and Essert Romand. And if you want a break from the Portes du Soleil, Samoens (linked to Flaine) is only an hour away by car.
So there’s no shortage of runs to choose from in good snow conditions. And there’s the rub, because almost all the skiing is below 2000m. In a blizzard on a bitterly cold day, Morzine’s short, tree-lined runs are a much nicer place to be than the bleak, exposed bowls above high altitude resorts. But in a warm Spring, or a mild December, Morzine has to live up to its promise of being a genuine year-round resort with plenty of things to do besides skiing.
Morzine Pros & Cons
+ Choice of a medium sized local ski area or the enormous Portes Du Soleil.
+ Good nightlife and plenty to do off the slopes
+ Easy to get to from Geneva or UK
+ Good range of accommodation
– Poor snow record
– Weekend crowds
– Sprawling town can be inconvenient
– Not many local challenges for experts.